EVERETT — Most of Snohomish County endured smoky, unhealthy air on Saturday while an alert remained in place for Index residents to “be ready to leave” amid high wildfire danger.
A red flag warning remains in effect through 5 p.m. Sunday due to “critical fire weather conditions.” That warning prompted new evacuation guidance on Friday night for Index residents, who were told to “be ready to leave, just not yet,” after many fled the Bolt Creek fire last month.
As of Saturday afternoon, Index and Baring remained at Level 1 (ready), with no other evacuation notices for Snohomish County. The Bolt Creek fire, which erupted on Sept. 10, is estimated at 13,958 acres and is 41% contained.
Heavy wildfire smoke, meanwhile, choked Western Washington on Saturday. Easterly winds have blown in smoke from the Bolt Creek fire, the Suiattle River fires northeast of Darrington and the White River Fire near Wenatchee. The Suiattle River fires, ignited in late August by a lightning storm, have flared up again in recent days.
Air quality was “unhealthy for everyone” or “very unhealthy” across most of the county, according to the AirNow Fire and Smoke Map. Darrington had some of the worst air quality, ranked at “hazardous.”
The smoke is expected to stick around through Sunday and into next week.
“It looks like we should see some improvements Monday,” as westerly winds move in, Jacob DeFlitch, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Seattle, said Saturday.
But no major clearing is expected. DeFlitch said easterly winds are expected to return on Tuesday and Wednesday, worsening air quality once again.
After a warm, dry start to October, rain could finally be on the way late Friday and Saturday, DeFlitch said.
“Cleaner air from the Pacific would very much help clear any additional wildfire smoke,” the meteorologist said.
Check the Washington Smoke Information blog for updates on smoke conditions.